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Whenever we submit an application for research funding, a lot of thought goes into how we will recruit people to participate in the study. However, retaining participants –  getting them to continue to participate in the study after the initial interview, survey or visit - is actually the hardest part. The successful retention of study subjects relies on many factors. A key one is the dynamic of the study team.

 
 
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by Avik Chatterjee, MD


Tasha, a fifteen-year old girl I was seeing at our clinic at a family homeless shelter (formerly a motel), stared at the floor as I talked with her about her sore throat and stuffy nose. Toward the end of the conversation, I asked her if anyone had ever talked to her about her weight, which was at the 99th percentile for girls her age.

“Yes. My primary care doctor said I should eat healthier and go to the gym.”

I looked around the stuffy, re-purposed motel room, currently being used as a meeting room, clinic, and storage room. The view from the window was of a large parking lot and cars whizzing by on the neighboring I-95. There was not a gym in sight.